LIVING

Being A Good Person? There's An App For That

08/17/2015 10:04 EDT | Updated 08/17/2015 10:59 EDT
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Close up of woman using cell phone touch screen

Remember Free Rice? This popular website/app began asking users back in 2007 to answer vocabulary questions; the more you got right, the more rice was donated to the United Nations World Food Programme. It was educational, it was easy, it was fun — and it’s still around to this day.

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Free Rice has added different subjects over the years, but the gameplay and goal have remained the same. That said, it’s no longer one-of-a-kind. These days, it is but one of many different ways you can effect change from your phone or computer. From texting donations to gaming for a cause to volunteering your time and expertise via a mobile application, there’s more than one way to make the world a better place.

On their website, the Mobile Giving Foundation of Canada (MGFC) includes a comprehensive list of charities and organizations you can donate to via text message — including CAMH, United Way, and The Terry Fox Foundation. The MGFC is a great place to go for those who wish to make charitable donations, but lack the finances to make large or ongoing donations. Most of the donation amounts you’ll find at the MGFC homepage are $5 or $10, which get added to your wireless carrier bill.

Volunteer Match shows us that all giving doesn’t have to be in dollars and cents. Sometimes, the most valuable things you can donate are your time, skills, and experience. Befitting its name, Volunteer Match seeks to pair people with causes they care about in their area. Featured “Cause Areas” include Arts and Culture, Children and Youth, Health and Medicine, and Seniors but there are others, too. Go look around — giving back feels like someone is giving your soul a high five.

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In the same vein as Volunteer Match but with more of a database feel, LinkedIn has a volunteering arm that ostensibly kills two birds with one stone. It provides prospective job seekers with volunteering opportunities to flesh out their CVs, and worthwhile charities and organizations with qualified, passionate people. Statistics provided at the site suggest that hiring managers are much more likely to hire people who volunteer compared to those who don’t.

Breaking the stereotype of gamers being insular and self-concerned — if that erroneous kind of bygone stereotype still exists in the first place — communities such as the ones who play games on Steam occasionally create game bundles that double as charitable endeavors. When you purchase via Humble Bundle inside of one of their Pay What You Want (PWYW) models, you get to allocate funds as you wish to the developers and charitable causes. For instance, the most recent Humble Bundle was supporting Save the Children and Charity: Water.

Games for Change is an intriguing corner of the Internet that can ensnare you for quite a while if you’re not careful. In contrast to online games that donate while you play or a percentage of your purchase, Games for Change has more of an educational, sociological feel to it. The games eschew shoot-em-ups to instead aim for some kind of social impact. At a time when activists are hoping to reach new demographics to help their humanitarian causes, this delivery mechanism feels less novel than overdue.